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A New Twist on Gratitude Practice

By May 28, 2017 8 Comments


Today, I want to invite you to try a new twist on gratitude journaling.

I recently heard a friend say she’d started writing down not only what she was grateful for, but why she was grateful for it. This had really made a difference for her.

My occasional gratitude journaling had gotten a little dry and perfunctory feeling, so I was intrigued.

So, instead of my gratitude list looking like…

•  Conversation with M
•  Walk & coffee this morning
•  Green chair family moment this evening

it looked like…

Conversation with M
•  because something genuinely new happened in the conversation today
•  because I have been pushed to grow so much in this relationship
•  because it’s so great to finally be in the same geographic place with her

Walk & coffee this morning
•  because of the silence and sweet alone time
•  because of the adorable coffee shop
•  because of the spring weather

Green chair family moment this evening
•  because of feeling connected
•  because of seeing the affection between my children
•  because of the memory of seeing eric’s face watching them together

My experience in doing this was that it really amplified all the positive feelings I’d normally feel only a touch of when making a gratitude list. This brought more joy. More of feeling moved. More of that feeling of being strengthened and calmed as I wrote. A sense of my heart swelling in my chest.

Then, in editing this post, I went back and read the list above and I felt a desire to be even more specific.

The lists evolved to this…

Conversation with M
•  because of that moment, when I heard myself say x, and I was looking at the sunlight on the road, and I felt so clear in saying it
•  and then I heard her say y back, and it was clear – we really were changing our dynamic around this thing

Walk & coffee this morning
•  because of the blue awning and the coal black sidewalk that greeted me
•  because of the two golden dogs outside
•  because of that feeling of freedom – walking, alone, the time and permission to do so

And as I went back and added in these details, the positive feelings only amplified more.

Not only that, but as I mined for the details, the experiences themselves seemed to expand. Instead of feeling like the day had just flown by again, it felt replete with vivid, rich experiences.

As I did a little more research, I discovered that the findings on gratitude practices are very in line with my experience: being more specific and including more details increases the impact of the practice.

And, sitting with the grateful feelings for a few moments, letting them flood the body, is what retrains the brain. It’s what causes gratitude practice to have an impact on our general mood and wellbeing as we move through our lives – not just in the moment of writing our gratitude list.

As Rick Hanson, psychologist and author of Buddha’s Brain, put it, “Really savor this positive experience. Practice what any school teacher knows: If you want to help people learn something, make it as intense as possible—in this case, as felt in the body as possible—for as long as possible.”

So this week’s practice: a few nights of the week try this out. (Research has shown you really don’t need to do this every day to get the benefits, so perfectionism – be gone!)

Journal about a few things you are grateful for, but take time to identify and write down the reasons why you are grateful for each.

Let us know what your experience is like in our Weekly Practice Facebook group here.

And, for more tips on making a gratitude practice effective (there are a lot of nuances beyond just writing a gratitude list), visit here.

With love,



Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Laura Lander says:

    This is a really great idea, Tara, thank you for passing it along and for explaining it so well. My gratitude list practice is ready for this next level!

  • Rachel Ernst says:

    This is a great post! I have re-shared it on my tiny blog with. And, I have been thinking I will do a SIMPLE, QUICK, EASY gratitude/prayer thing in the mornings where the kids and I light a candle FOR A SPECIFIC PERSON THAT DAY. And, we WRITE on a scrap of paper and put it near the candle, why we appreciate that person and any prayer request we have for them. It may take the formality and religiosity out of the thing and make it concrete. I think it will help my kids PRACTICE THINKING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.

  • Thanks Tara,
    I’ve restarted my practice of emotional disclose journaling (EDJ) – writing about my most painful experiences – as I become aware over the weekend that there was a lot of unresolved painful stuff blocking my entrepreneurial plans.

    Even just 20 minutes per week of EDJ has been shown to substantially boost immune function…(Koschwanez, H. E., Kerse, N., Darragh, M., Jarrett, P., Booth, R. J., & Broadbent, E. (2013). Expressive writing and wound healing in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Psychosomatic medicine, 75(6), 581-590.)

    I do find EDJ VERY helpful for constructively eviscerating that ugly stuff.

    However as you present a compelling argument for detailed gratitude journalling, I will try finishing – or offsetting – my EDJ practice with some of the good stuff.

    🙂 & best wishes from New Zealand,
    Rebecca Stafford

  • Catherine says:

    This has really helped me Tara. I have been feeling so lost, trapped and miserable lately due to world events, my own situation and my own perception of myself. Making gratitude specific really helps.
    I can also turn around hurtful events too e.g. I’m grateful that the person I thought was a friend deserted me because it’s made room in my life for better friends.

  • Stacey says:

    I absolutely love these Weekly Practice hints. Every single one has made me think twice and sent me to take action, look at the world in a different way and much more. You are a blessing, Tara Mohr!

  • […] Practice gratitude. Listen to Tara Mohr’s gratitude mp3 or Shawn Anchor’s Ted Talk for how to raise happiness levels through gratitude. When I am […]

  • […] Practice gratitude. Listen to Tara Mohr’s gratitude mp3 or Shawn Anchor’s Ted Talk for how to raise happiness levels through gratitude. When I am […]

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